Monday, March 30, 2009

Obama says no to pot legalization. Bummer, dude!

Way to harsh on my vibe, dude.
Party on, stoners!

Last Friday, President Obama held a televised live chat/town hall meeting in which he answered questions submitted by some 3.6 million viewers. One of the most popular submitted questions dealt with the idea of legalizing marijuana in order to allow the government to regulate and tax it, thereby increasing revenues.

Before anyone scoffs, let's have a look at some things.

First off, putting aside its legitimate medicinal value, can we agree that cannabis sativa is a relatively innocuous recreational drug?

Please, moralizers, spare me your shrill protestations to the contrary. Any argument about the "dangers" of marijuana are exposed as ridiculous when one considers the vast emotional wreckage and the ruinous financial expenditures that occur every year due to the consumption of alcohol in this country. Worried about drugs ruining people's lives? Bring back Prohibition! Ask any police officer responding to loud Friday night revelry which he would rather encounter. Drunks or stoners? There is no physical addiction associated with marijuana; there is no evidence to suggest any correlation between marijuana use and any serious health issues; nor has the oft-touted suggestion that it is a "gateway" drug ever been substantiated.

Now then...

When one considers the amount of money that state and federal goverment spends on enforcing antequated marijuana laws, including the raiding of medical marijuana clinics in California (courtesy of the insanely puritannical Attorney General John Ashcroft), the real crime would seem to be that uptight law enforcement officials feel the need to persecute stoners while other, more dastardly criminals continue to operate unhindered. (Torture authorizers, for example.)

In spite of the fact that many states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oregon) have decriminalized marijuana, there were still nearly 900,000 persons arrested for cannabis violations throughout the US in 2007. That's the highest annual total ever recorded, according to statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

So, considering all this, if, by changing our laws, we could obviate the need for law enforcement to spend time and money chasing after stoners, our public coffers would be saved a considerable amount of dough. According to Dr. Jon Gettman of Shepherd University, WV, writing in the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform, all levels of government (federal, state, and local) would save $12.9 billion per year by discontinuing enforcement of marijuana laws.

Further, government regulation and taxation could be a revenue source. Up to $32.7 billion annually.

Believe it or not, marijuana is the biggest cash crop in the entire United States, ranking ahead of wheat, soybeans, and even corn! Check this table, adapted from a table presented in Dr. Gettman's bulletin.

RankCropAverage Production
1Marijuana$35.8 billion
2Corn$23.3 billion
3Soybeans$17.6 billion
4Hay$12.2 billion
5Vegetables$11.1 billion
6Wheat$7.45 billion

So, marijuana generates nearly 50% more revenue than does corn, its nearest competitor. Nearly $36 billion worth of ganja produced in the United States per year. That's a lot of bong hits, eh? I don't know what the bong hits to shekels conversion rate is, but one has to imagine that it would be considerable.

Going back to President Obama's townhall meeting, alas, he wasn't exactly equivocal in his answer to the question. And I quote: "The answer is no, I don't think [legalization] is a good strategy to grow the economy."

Well, after all, despite the fact that most people recognize that marijuana is relatively harmless, the country is just not there yet. And given all the huge political battles that are looming on the President's horizon, I understand that he wouldn't want to give any ammunition to his adversaries who are right now desperately trying to find something with which to fight him. Besides, at the very least, the new Justice Department has announced that they will no longer conduct raids on medical marijuana clinics.

So give Obama some credit... he didn't avoid the question. That, in itself, is progress. And, really, in many places, including here in Portland, marijuana is de facto legal anyway.

Tasty nugs!
I have a friend who came home one night to find that her house was burglarized. Fearing that the burglars might still be in her home, she called the police to come investigate. An officer arrived and together they went through her residence. As they went room to room, my friend was terrified to see that she had left a bag of marijuana sitting on top of her bedroom dresser in plain sight. She couldn't hide it away with the officer right beside her, so she held her breath and hoped that he wouldn't notice it.

After a thorough inspection of the house, they found that the burglars had taken some beer out of the refrigerator and a little cash. "It was probably some teenage kids," the officer concluded. "But it's odd that they didn't take your pot."

He shrugged and told her to keep her door locked.

5 comments:

Dave Porter said...

If we do not want Mexico to become a hopeless failed state and to live with total political chaos on our southern border, we must legalize drugs, starting with marijuana. See my post "Defund the Mexican drug cartels, legalize marijuana" here.

sunflowerpipes.com said...

I respect Obama and though I understand he chooses reasons to play down the issue of “immoral” drug use, I believe he should have shown some respect to the issue and use the same meaningful insight and common sense honesty that he was elected for. During the inauguration Obama chose to highlight the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln a man who led this country through one of its most divisive times. The civil war was remarkable because it pitted brother against brother and displayed to history the inhumane brutality that Americans are capable of inflicting on one another when they fall on opposing sides of a powerful ideology. There are a lot of similarities between the war on drugs and that “civil” war of old. The war on drugs American has once again pitted American against American in a battle of suffering, divisiveness and bloodshed. We as Americans need to exercise our collective control of government and call, email or write a representative and by doing so make the drug war an issue that has to be dealt with now rather than a lingering one to be laughed off and prolonged as long as it is politically prudent to do so.
SunflowerPipes.com

kate said...

actually its one of the very few things i agree with obama about. :)

sponge888 said...

Actually, I think that she mentioned the pot to the officer first, which is even more remarkable! ;-O

sunflowerpipes.com said...

I respect Obama and though I understand he chooses reasons to play down the issue of “immoral” drug use, I believe he should have shown some respect to the issue and use the same meaningful insight and common sense honesty that he was elected for. During the inauguration Obama chose to highlight the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln a man who led this country through one of its most divisive times. The civil war was remarkable because it pitted brother against brother and displayed to history the inhumane brutality that Americans are capable of inflicting on one another when they fall on opposing sides of a powerful ideology. There are a lot of similarities between the war on drugs and that “civil” war of old. The war on drugs American has once again pitted American against American in a battle of suffering, divisiveness and bloodshed. We as Americans need to exercise our collective control of government and call, email or write a representative and by doing so make the drug war an issue that has to be dealt with now rather than a lingering one to be laughed off and prolonged as long as it is politically prudent to do so.
SunflowerPipes.com